Two years ago, Gilbert Nelson was diagnosed with melanoma on the bottom of his foot. The treatment was amputation. A few months ago, the melanoma came back, this time on his leg. Since it had not spread beyond the leg, Gilbert was eligible for new treatment called Isolated Limb Infusion or ILI. This time instead of amputation or surgery, doctors passed a thin catheter from the groin to the main artery in his leg. Powerful chemo circulates through the leg while a tourniquet stops it from traveling to the rest of his body.
Dr. Vadim Gushchin, M.D., a surgeon at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, commented on the procedure, "This permits us to use a very high, lethal concentration of chemotherapy to profuse the extremity and kill the tumor without affecting the body at all. We do that for 30 minutes and typically it is enough to destroy the tumors that spread throughout the leg."
After just a few months, doctors believe Gilbert's cancer is under control. If it does come back, Isolated Limb Infusion can be repeated.
Side effects include redness, swelling, and pain in the leg for about a week after the treatment. Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore is one of three hospitals in the country offering limb infusion. The others are Duke and Sloan Kettering in New York.
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